Marketing Mysteries

I am not a good marketer.

I am very shy by nature, so putting myself (and thus my work) out there is something of an alien concept to me. When I first stuck a toe into the self-publishing pond, I knew marketing was part of the deal, yet I avoided it like the plague. I think I posted on two message boards about Echoes and GNW when they were first released; that was it. I tweeted once or twice. I did blog steadily, at least for a while, but that was pretty much the extent of my marketing. I figured, Hey, it’s a minor miracle that I’ve got anything out there at all. Let’s just leave it at that.

As any self-publishd author (hell, any entrepreneur) will tell you…that’s a bad idea. Very, very bad.

In spite of this, GNW sold really, really well, hitting several Amazon bestsellers’ lists and basically saving my apartment when one of my biggest writing jobs went belly-up. I don’t feel like I could ask for a better performance from what I called “my silly little zombie story,” but I do occasionally wonder if I’m doing my writing a disservice by not working the marketing angle a little bit.

This point was driven home when I followed a series of links and inadvertently ended up learning a lot.

I’ve frequented Holly Lisle’s site since I was in high school (at this point we’re talking 15 years ago), and last week she put up an interview she had with Laura Howard. I followed the link to Laura’s site, listened to the interview, and ended up paging through the rest of Laura’s blog. She had interviewed many other women in publishing, including Ashley Barron, who had an entire series on her blog about getting started with marketing on your blog, using Twitter, and all that good stuff. It’s a freaking gold mine of information.

Why am I not doing this? I wondered. How stupid am I?

Pretty stupid, as Vibeke might say.

Inspired, I tinkered with the site layout a little bit and basically reactivated my Twitter, which I had forgotten about since a handful of posts in November. I’ve started following people again. So far, so good.

I can’t exactly tell you why I’ve bombed so badly in the social media aspect. Writing is largely a business for me. I’m a ghostwriter, freelance reporter, and blogger. I’ve done well in those areas…but I’ve completely ignored my own fiction – the stuff under my pseudonym. I haven’t exactly treated it like a hobby, but I think that’s been my approach to marketing it: “It’s not my main income, so I shouldn’t have to put a ton of thought into it.”

That mindset is the more comfortable one to slip into, but it’s not doing my books any favors. Thing is, they’ve done me favorsGNW — tiny brawler that it was — started paying a good chunk of the bills after I’d done pretty much everything short of self-sabotage to stop it. Maybe it’s time to see what my books can do when I work with them, not against them.

I am never going to be a mega-awesome promoter. It’s not in my blood. But I can blog, and I can tweet, and I can meet very cool people through both routes.

I’ll certainly document my findings here. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. Fingers crossed!

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